Funding all-clear for trans-Alpine 'rolling motorway'

The European Commission has given France and Italy the go ahead to provide additional state funding for a prototype service that uses rail trucks to transport freight lorries across the Alps.

The Autoroute Ferroviaire Alpine, described by its backers as a ‘rolling motorway’, is a 50/50 joint venture between French and Italian rail companies SNCF and Trenitalia. It operates between Aiton and Orbassano on the existing Lyon-Turin line running through the Fréjus tunnel under Mont Cenis.

The service began last year and will run in the experimental phase until 2009 with the aim of reducing congestion caused by lorries and other heavy vehicles on routes crossing the Alps.

The new funding agreement allows the French and Italian governments to extend the euros 22 million funding that each has been was permitted to devote to the project.

Ina statement, the Commission said that because the aid is limited to the experimental phase, it is compatible with European competition rules.

“In view of the experimental nature of the project, the particularly difficult conditions under which the system is being operated during the test period and the specific features of the technology being used, financial support is necessary in order to be able to continue,” it said.

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